29 November 2011

Kanji Lesson 12

This kanji shows the characteristic of water. The first two strokes (the vertical line & its left-side) represent the characteristic of water that's always has a level surface (perpendicular to the gravitational force) regardless of its container. The left-side stroke is a half of a picture of a bowl of water (seen from the side). The surface of the water is perfectly horizontal despite of the curved bottom of the bowl. The last two strokes represent the characteristic of water that can move/flow in a flexible manner. The straight, diagonal line represents a blockage, and the curved line represents the flow of water that's going around the blockage, hence it's flexibility.
  • 水よう日 (すいようび) Wednesday

Correct, Justice
By winnifredxoxo (Flickr)
CC BY 2.0
Consists of a horizontal line and the kanji for "stop" (止). This kanji represents a beam balance in an equilibrium (balanced state). In general, using a beam balance is about levelling the beam, which means that the beam will stop (no longer sways up & down) at a horizontal position when the amount of weight is correct. The balance scale is also used as a symbol of justice, representing equality and fairness.

  • 不正 (ふせい) Injustice, Dishonesty
  • 正月 (しょうがつ) New Year, New Year's Day, The first month, January

Consists of the radical for "slender" (幺) and the kanji for small (小). The "slender" radical is a picture of a curved, slender object. A slender object is easier to bend & curve (e.g. try to bend a thin wire/rope and then try the thicker one). This kanji represents a slender & small object, a thread.

Car, Vehicle
This kanji is a picture of a rickshaw without the shafts. The rickshaw (which actually comes from the Japanese word "jinrikisha") was a widely used vehicle in China and Japan in the past. The uppermost & lowermost horizontal lines represent the tires of the rickshaw. The middle part represents passenger's seats.
  • 人力車 (じんりきしゃ) Rickshaw
  • 下車 (げしゃ) Alighting (from train, bus, etc.), Getting off

Rice, America (USA)
Courtesy of USDA ARS
Consists of 木 (tree/plant) and two dots on its top to represent rice grains. The rice plant (and many other cereal plants) have its fruits (i.e the grains) stand on top of the plant (jutting out & up instead of hanging down). As for the meaning of "America", it came from the Chinese usage of this character as one of the phonetic component to say the word "America".
  • 米ドル (べいドル) US dollar

Spirit, mind, air, atmosphere, mood
By Dhammika Heenpella (Flickr)
CC BY-NC 2.0
This kanji is a simplified form of an older kanji 氣, which consists of the "gas" (state of matter beside solid & liquid) radical 气 and the kanji for "rice" (米). The "gas" radical is a picture of vapor accumulating at a ceiling, which represents the tendency of most gases to move upward. The first two strokes (the curved line & the topmost horizontal line) represent a ceiling-like structure (actually, the ceiling is the horizontal line, the curved line is one side of the roof). The second stroke (the middle horizontal line) represents accumulated vapor. The last stroke (a horizontal line followed by a downward curve) represents vapor moving from the lower side of the building up to the ceiling (although it's written from top to bottom). In this kanji, the 气 radical represents the general characteristic of a gas, which is invisible, yet can be felt (e.g the wind, which is a flow of gases). The rice (米) is of course, the staple food in China, Japan, and most other (Southern) East Asian countries. A healthy food is the basis for a healthy body, and as the well-known saying says, a healthy body is the basis for a healthy mind (mens sana in corpore sano). In other words, the food (rice) we eat transforms into something invisible, yet can be felt (the mind / spirit).
  • 人気 (にんき) Popular
  • 天気 (てんき) Weather
  • 気に入り (きにいり) Favorite
  • 本気 (ほんき) Seriousness, Truth
  • 大気 (たいき) Atmosphere

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